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Down to a fine art: A weekend fest of photography, contemporary works

From a retrospective of Altaf Mohamedi’s works to a celebration of World Photography Day, Mumbai’s art galleries have something for everyone this weekend.

mumbai Updated: Aug 19, 2017 11:13 IST
Riddhi Doshi
Riddhi Doshi
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Bombay,Altaf Mohamedi
Untitled, from late Altaf Mohamedi’s Turmoil series, will be on display at Delhi Art Gallery, Fort.

The monsoon isn’t the best time of the year if you love art – the shows are few and far between. This season, however, a slew of fantastic exhibitions give you a chance to go back to the 1950s, revisit Mumbai’s Irani restaurants and understand how and why Bombay became one of the muses of the late genius Altaf Mohamedi.

“He created a number of works inspired by the city, especially its culture of Irani Restaurants, where people from different strata could come together,” says Navjot, Altaf’s artist’s wife. He also created a series of paintings on the 1992 riots, titled ‘My people have died as fires die without a trace’.

One of Mumbai’s favourite galleries, Chatterjee & Lal, is celebrating its 10th year at its current space in Colaba, and at Sakshi, young Andhra Pradesh artist Lakshman Rao Kotturu debuts with his solo show broadly based on dealing with pain.

“I have been hurt many times and my works process the pain I’ve experienced. At the same time, they are cathartic and unfold newer perspectives and wisdom for me,” says Kotturu. So what will you see this weekend?

Your portrait in the ’50s

The Old World Photo Studio
  • WHERE: Piramal Art Gallery, NCPA, Nariman Point
  • WHEN: August 18 to 20, noon to 8 pm
  • TO REGISTER: Email

To celebrate World Photography Day on August 19, the National Centre of Performing Arts’ visual art gallery, Piramal, invites families to experience the joy of getting photographed in a mock-up resembling a photo studio of the ’50s. Remember the colourful backgrounds and the photographer’s instruction to apply some powder before you begin the never-ending ‘chin up, chin down’ routine? They’ll provide the traditional outfits, caps, walking sticks, spectacles, gramophones and props. Just hold still.

“It was photographer Shiresh Karrale’s idea to give people something to take home and cherish and recreate that bygone photo-studio era on World Photography Day,” says Mukesh Parpiani, curator of the gallery. “I remember how people would excitedly queue up outside a photo booth, at a traditional fair, to get their pictures clicked with the posters of their favourite movie stars.”

To celebrate World Photography Day, photographer Shirish Karrale is teaming up with NCPA to recreate ’50s-style mock-ups of family portraits.


From pain comes art

Footprints on a Broken Mirror
  • WHERE: Sakshi gallery, 6/19, Grants Building, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba
  • WHEN: August 10 to September 9, 11 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sundays
  • CALL: 6610-3424

Artist Lakshman Rao Kotturu’s Footprints on a Broken Mirror explores the artists’ experiences with pain and the insights from those difficult times. Through 17 works made of fibre glass, mesh and even a pair of scissors Kotturu reflects upon the painful experiences of his life and how have they shaped his present and future. In an untitled work made from fiberglass and mesh, an upside-down elephant is plonked on a smaller one almost crushing him under his weight. “The sensitive animal represents humans, and the nails on the baby elephants show the manifold and far-reaching impact that certain situations can have, not just on an individual but on those close to him as well,” says Kotturu.

Turning ten

The 10-Year Hustle
  • WHERE: Chatterjee & Lal, 01/18 Kamal Mansion, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba
  • WHEN: August 10 to September 2, 11 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday
  • CALL: 2202-3787

Gallery Chatterjee & Lal celebrates the 10th year its Colaba location with its ambitious exhibition The 10 Year Hustle. It features works by some of the biggest stars of the art world: Nikhil Chopra, Rashid Rana, Zarina Hashmi, Nasreen Mohamedi and Thukral & Tagra. The exhibition, in a way, traces the history of art by featuring the works of art-makers in their 30s and 40s, and whose practices often incorporate performance, moving images and drawings and paintings. There are also works from the previous century, mainly of artists born between 1920 and the 1930s, in addition to art that predates India’s modernism phase.

This tongue-in-cheek title came up during a conversation with an artist and stuck. “It is only meant to highlight the reality of running a commercial gallery, especially during an extended period of market weakness,” says gallerist Mortimer Chatterjee. “The gallery location has been critically important in providing us a sense of community not only with our collector base, but also with our gallerist colleagues located in the Colaba area.”

Shades of a revolutionary

A retrospective by Altaf Mohamedi
  • WHERE: Delhi Art Gallery, 58, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort
  • WHEN: August 19 to November 1, 11 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sunday
  • CALL: 022 4922-2700

Late Altaf Mohamedi was among those who didn’t see art for its aesthetic value alone, but as a medium of bringing about change and new ideas. A Marxist, trained in London, Altaf took his works to labour camps, Bombay slums and mobile crèches and is now being fondly remembered on his 75th birthday through his retrospective at the Delhi Art Gallery.

His strong works are evocative of his belief in the politics of power and corruption, the marginalisation of the proletariat, and are haunted by death.

‘Time & Morality’, by Altaf Mohamedi. The retrospective in honour of his 75th birthday will explore the works he took to Bombay’s mobile creches, slums, and labour camps.

Celebrating rains

Black & White Is Not Always Grey
  • WHERE: Jamaat art gallery, National House , Tulloch Road , Opp Bademiyan, Colaba
  • WHEN: Until September 10, 11 am to 7 pm. Closed on Sunday
  • CALL: 022 22820-0718

At Jamaat, Black & White Is Not Always Grey features works in the titular colours by various artists. AV Ilango’s words feature dancers and drummers.

Ajay De paints cycle rickshawallas. Satish Gujral creates a powerful imagery by merging man and machine.

Jamaat’s exhibition will works by Ajay De (above), AV Ilango, and Satish Gujral.

Pravina Mecklai of Jamaat says the show reflects the season, with its thunderous clouds, sheets of rain and streaks of lightning.

“It’s a drama of opposites, of blacks and whites; never a dull period, never greys,” she says. “It then seems appropriate to have a show by artists who have made this their oeuvre, nay even their forte”.

The art of making photos

The Surface of Things: Photography in Process
  • WHERE: Special Project Space, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Byculla East
  • WHEN: August 20 to September 19, 10 am to 6 pm. Closed on Wednesday
  • CALL: 2372-1234
  • ENTRY: Rs 10

At the Byculla museum, a special exhibition celebrates World Photography Day by focusing on the 200-year evolution of photography and its different techniques. Curated by Rahab Allana, the exhibition features photos of four contemporary artists: Uzma Mohsin, Srinivas Kuruganti, Sukanya Ghosh and Edson Beny Dias.

Photos bySukanya Ghosh (above), Edson Beny Dias, Srinivas Kuruganti, and Uzma Mohsin will be featured in Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum’s exhibition on 200 years of photography.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 22:13 IST